Towards a Humanized Mouse Model of Liver Stage Malaria Using Ectopic Artificial Livers

Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 31:7:45424. doi: 10.1038/srep45424.


The malaria liver stage is an attractive target for antimalarial development, and preclinical malaria models are essential for testing such candidates. Given ethical concerns and costs associated with non-human primate models, humanized mouse models containing chimeric human livers offer a valuable alternative as small animal models of liver stage human malaria. The best available human liver chimeric mice rely on cellular transplantation into mice with genetically engineered liver injury, but these systems involve a long and variable humanization process, are expensive, and require the use of breeding-challenged mouse strains which are not widely accessible. We previously incorporated primary human hepatocytes into engineered polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based nanoporous human ectopic artificial livers (HEALs), implanted them in mice without liver injury, and rapidly generated human liver chimeric mice in a reproducible and scalable fashion. By re-designing the PEG scaffold to be macroporous, we demonstrate the facile fabrication of implantable porous HEALs that support liver stage human malaria (P. falciparum) infection in vitro, and also after implantation in mice with normal liver function, 60% of the time. This proof-of-concept study demonstrates the feasibility of applying a tissue engineering strategy towards the development of scalable preclinical models of liver stage malaria infection for future applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Liver / parasitology*
  • Malaria / parasitology*
  • Malaria / pathology*
  • Mice